In the first part of my three-part interview with Dave Eckert, he outlined the foundations for the sales enablement of analyst relations. In this article, he outlines what AR must and must not do, as well as brutal truths about how to gain the resources needed.
What analyst relations must provide to sales
We’re going to look at this both directions. Well, you can give training program information, sales tools and client service. I mentioned each of these but let’s do them in greater detail. A training program might be live training in a classroom or a webinar by phone. It may also be recorded and posted onto a portal.
Let me put a major caveat right here. You will never get salespeople to come to your training program. The only way you’re going to train them is for you to insert a small piece of training into their program. So if they’ve got a training program for new sales hires, that’s a place you’d like to insert some training.
However, and more importantly, the sales team has regular meetings. They have staff meetings. They have perhaps boondoggle meetings where they spend three days together at some hotel in the south of France. There are places where all of the sales team is together. If you can get your training very short, very focused, and inserted into that training, then you’ll have success. Don’t try to create something that you want them to come to you to attend.
The second thing is information. So you need many ways of providing information. That needs to be placed on the sales portal. So you may have something where there’s a regular message that comes out of the sales portal or out of the sales community. You can add an alert: talk a little bit about something. It is significant. That’s where you will get their attention.
Tools help exporting positive, or overcoming negative, commentary and a checklist for working with prospects. These can be added to the sales portal. These can also be inserted in the newsletters, but again, this is the sales newsletter.
Lastly, “client services”: when there comes some crisis, and an analyst has done something that salesperson needs help. You need to be able to provide some timely response: both information and also advice. So, that does require an AR resource, at that point. That’s an essential item as we go.
What to avoid
There are a couple of things that we want to avoid.
We cannot demand time from sales; not a significant amount of time. It’s almost any time. The salespeople have a goal. It’s their direction. So their effort is time and so forth. You’re just not going to get it and you’re not going to be able to change the way they work. So don’t even attempt that. You are not making salespeople in the expert on analysts.
A key that I think it’s crucial on the AR side is to take this and little tiny steps. You need to kind of be aggressive about how you approach this. By aggressive, I mean you need to focus on what you can drop to make time.
You need to take baby steps, a phased approach, as you begin to move in. The process of cutting out AR services that you’ve done in the past is excruciating. However, you’re going to have to do some of that as you begin to insert various activities that you’re working on with sales. So take this very gently.
Be sure that you have the right services, and the right tools, that meet sales’ expectations. The best way to do that is going to be a pilot program or a phased approach. You need to work through a small section of sales. Be certain that they are happy and that you’re working through.
Be sure that you’re not yourself overloaded. Maybe you’ll suddenly get a massive number of requests from sales. If you can’t fulfill them, then the whole program is going to go down the drain. So it’s really important to take this in small steps and, kind of, work your way in. Those are the things that we needed need to avoid.
How do you find initial resources?
You’re going to have to cut some things out to make time. So what do you do? Well, my suggestion here is you need to look carefully, at your workload and in your budget, so that you can do a reallocation. We call this a zero-based review. Take a look at all the things that you’re currently doing.
One of the most interesting things that I have done with some clients is to say: write a log. Take little diary of what you do every day for maybe as much as a month. Just a note. That doesn’t have to be a lot of detail: where are you spending your time?
Likewise, when you’re working with your budget. Take a look at where you’re spending your actual dollars. Then, once you’ve got that kind of little cheat sheet of activities, run down that and take a look and say: what of those can I really drop? Which ones are not productive?
One example of that is taking a careful look at your analyst lists. Okay. You’ve got a list of what you’re calling your Tier 1 analysts. Often people will say to me: oh, I have a hundred Tier 1 analysts. The answer is: no you don’t. You need to identify who the most significant analysts are and work with them. Move other people down to tier 2 or even tier 3. What that means is you’ll create yourself some kind of a service level agreement, an internal service level agreement, that says this is the service level I provide for my key tier one analysts, and this is what I provide for tier 2, and this is what I provide for tier 3.
You may find yourself doing a lot of work for analysts who don’t make much difference. Tier 3 analysts that are not influencing your sales do demand, and get, lots of extra time. So if you can go through carefully, then do that. You should find that you should be able to cut several hours out of your time budget and be able to also, therefore, cut out some of your dollar budget. So that’s where you find your resources. And do that, by the way, even if you’re not going to do sales enablement